The rural towns of Acland and Oakey in regional Queensland are facing a new battle between miners and farmers.
The New Acland open cut coal mine, owned and operated by New Hope Group, has been in operation since 2002, but a long-running push for expansion has faced opposition and delays.
This week, Insight brings together stakeholders and townsfolk to discuss the economic, environmental and health impact of the mine and what expansion may mean for generations to come.
There is also tension brewing on the Liverpool Plains in NSW over the federal and state government’s approval of the Shenhua Watermark coal mine. Insight discusses the environmental and political implications of this decision with hydrogeologist Matthew Currell and former independent MP Tony Windsor.
Tanya Plant’s family lives about two kilometres from the mine. Since the mine opened she has experienced both dust and noise problems. “One of my daughter’s just coughed and coughed and coughed like every night for about eight or nine months,” she said. Tanya says there is a lot of mistrust and feels the mine’s owners haven’t done the right thing by the community.
Former independent member for the federal seat of New England Tony Windsor believes Minister for the Environment MP Greg Hunt’s approval of the Shenhua Watermark coalmine on the Liverpool Plains has the potential to develop into an environmental and economic confrontation to match the Franklin River blockade.
Matt Tonscheck used to be a dairy farmer before he switched to mining when his business went bust. “There was no future for me on our farm when deregulation came in.” The father-of-two said the transition has been easy and is happy with the mine’s management.
Noel Wieck is worried about the future. He invested millions in his dairy farm following the LNP’s promise not to expand and now fears the Darling Downs soil could be ruined. “It’s been cropped for 130 years and would be forever more, but once it’s mined its second-rate grazing country.”
As the State Government reviews the approval process, Jenny Brockie asks guests: how can the land be maximised for both agricultural and resource use?
Insight: When Mining Comes to Town airs 8.30pm, Tuesday 25 August on SBS.